I mentioned in the Weekly Update that I've been sort of planning on changing Raider to make it appealing if I'm going to finish it at all, because to try the same not-very-successful formula three more times to finish off the series might be very foolish indeed.
I don't want to lose the old fans, but I do want to bring more people into it. I wouldn't expect the frustrating difficulty to be the only appealing factor, surely... But then again, the game is so basic that it could well be. Hmm.
I originally planned for the game to be more, uh, complex than it is, but went with what was a simpler route just so then I could get the game finished at all. Now that all the hard parts are done, though, I can perhaps return to something more complex and interesting?
Firstly, I would get rid of the one-huge-level-per-world format and replace it with something more like... two or three or four smaller levels per world. Perhaps I wouldn't even make the difficulty that different, but it'd come across as less daunting if you weren't expected to finish one huge level all in one go.
Since I'll be including all five episodes in the one game, I'll have a sort of 'planet map' thing like in SMECOF, for those of you that remember that, where you can see all the planets (or the first level's prison ship thing) available and travel to them once they're unlocked. This would mean that you could travel BACK to earlier levels, and I'll get to that later.
When travelling to a specific world, you'd find yourself on a sort of tile-based top-down world map thing... For those of you who've played Super Mario Bros 3 on the NES or SNES, it'd be like that; very, uh, boxy, with clear paths and levels on those paths. Maybe. Or something like that, anyway.
Each world would generally have two or three compulsory levels then a boss level, but some levels might have two exits or something, or there might be secret off-the-path levels with relics or items or something.
I MAY consider doing segments when flying between worlds where you control your ship and play a section like SMECOF, but those sorts of games are not something I'm competent at making (due to inexperience with them; I'd have to figure stuff out as I went along), and it might lengthen development more than I want (I just want this game to be finished and done with).
Something I would definitely want to do is to sort of... merge the current HP systems and stuff with the 'RPG mechanics' of Raider Zero... Or rather, it'd have mechanics more like the Zelda games or something, where you have an inventory and so on, but your 'stats' are determined by your 'heart containers', your weapon and your armour.
Your HP would be in the same form as the pixelated Raider rather than Raider Zero's numerical value, and you'd start with 3 HP or something and get an additional one after each boss, though there could be some (or even the equivalent of 'heart pieces') scattered throughout the levels (particularly secret levels). Each single HP may be 4 HP like Zelda though, with average attacks doing '1 HP', but some weaker ones doing only 0.25 HP or something... Hmm.
You'd also be able to pick up and store life-restoring items, like the Adrenaline Shots in R0, maybe...
I'm unsure how weapon and armour upgrades would be handled, actually...
I'd also like to give the player special attacks for beating bosses, like the ability to shoot electricity for beating the Wraith, and the ability to shoot fire for beating level 2... I'm unsure whether to just make these new weapons, or something else like 'magic'.
I want to add SPECIAL ACQUIRED ABILITIES which seem to be the norm for platform games, with things like Double Jump, etc. You'd acquire these on special levels rather than after beating bosses, usually. I'd have to work out which abilities I'd make available.
With these, you could return to earlier levels to unlock new paths or find treasure. There'd generally only be one Artefact (or were they called Relics? I forget!) per level, and they would generally be difficult to find, with many of them requiring later abilities to get to.
Powerups may also be lying around, granting you increased or special powers temporarily.
There'd obviously be features like the ability to save your progress with this 'more complex' system...
Anyway, for you few Raider fans, would changing it like this RUIN the appeal of the game for you?
For the rest of you, is there anything else I should add, change, remove, etc, if you care about Raider at all?
(And just to be clear, whatever I decide to do, I won't do it until I've finished MARDEK 3. That's my priority right now. I just thought I should start preparing for Raider because I'll be trying to finish it after MARDEK 3 is done, as it's the only AS2 project I intend to finish before switching over to AS3 and redoing various other games... and if I'm prepared, I can get started as soon as I release MARDEK 3.)